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GM Carlsen - GM Caruana annotated by GM Naiditsch

User Rating: / 21
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 09 May 2014

By GM Arkadij Naiditsch, #1 German chess player
Best FIDE rating: 2737

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We are in the last round of the Gashimov Memorial. Both Carlsen and Caruana had 5.5/9 at this moment, so this was the game for the first place. After a not very ambitious opening, White managed to complicate the game anyhow. First it looked like Magnus should be on the right road to the tournament win, but I think that in the middle game Caruana had good chances to be perfectly fine. After the mistake 20...f5? and the great 28.e3! and 29.Rd3! Magnus left no more chances for survival to his opponent though.

View the game or check out the "text + diagrams" version below.

Image from the
official site

Carlsen,Magnus (2881) - Caruana,Fabiano (2783) [A49]
Vugar Gashimov Mem 2014 Shamkir AZE (10.2), 30.04.2014
[Arkadij Naiditsch]
1.d4 Carlsen also plays 1. e4 but somehow I have the feeling that when he is trying to win a game he is more likely to pick 1.d4.
1...Nf6 2.Nf3
With this move order, White is maybe trying to avoid the main lines of the Gruenfeld, which is the main opening of Caruana.
2...g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 Black has a wide range of options here and the move order is very important.
This move is of course not the main one and Carlsen was probably trying to avoid the main theory. [5.c4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 would lead us to one of the very popular lines.]
Maybe not the most exact way to continue for Black. 

[I am wondering why Caruana did not go for 5...cxd4 6.cxd4 d5 7.00 00 8.Ne5 e6 as this symmetrical line is considered very harmless for Black.]
Why not take a pawn if you can! Now the game is getting very complicated. White is going to be a pawn up, but Black will dominate the center.
6...00 7.00
Before the action, both players secure their kings' positions.
Good and ty pical play. Of course White's main idea could be to play b4 to secure the c5 pawn and also to develop strong play on the queenside. Now White needs to look for a plan to hold the c5 pawn and to develop his bishop on c1 and knight on b1.
White found a nice plan with Be3Qc1. This is not only giving White the possibility of playing Bh6 at some moment, but also to bring the rook into the game with Rd1.
After this move White will definitely not have any trouble to keep the c5 pawn alive. [An interesting try could have been 8...Ng4!? 9.Bd4 (After 9.Bd2 Na6 Black is perfectly fine.) 9...e5 Now the game is getting forced. 10.h3 exd4 11.hxg4 dxc3 12.Nxc3 Bxg4 White is a pawn up, but the bishop pair should give Black very good chances to hold. 13.Qxd5 Qxd5 14.Nxd5 Na6 I think that maybe White is minimally better, but objectively the game should end in a draw.]
Black's main idea could be to play e5 and in that case White is going to bring his knight over b5 to d6.
Maybe Caruana was slightly worried about White's Qa4Qh4 maneuver.
10.Qc1 Here we see the main idea of White's 8.Be3.
10...e5 11.Rd1 Qe7 The position is still very complicated, but White's chances are probably already better.
12.Nb5 Of course the white knight is going to d6.
Black tries to be solid.

A strong move. With this tactical idea, White is gaining a tempo.
13...Bg4 14.Nd6 The point is that Black cannot take the pawn on e2.
14...h6 [14...Bxe2? doesn't work because of 15.Rxd5! Nxd5 16.Bxd5 and White is winning because of the pressure on the f7 pawn.]
15.Nf3 Kh7 The position is still very complicated. White slowly needs to try and get some play on the queenside as Black is just too solid in the center.
It is hard to say if this move was really needed. Maybe it was more simple to play 16.Qd2Qe1, securing things even more on the kingside.

A very logical move, but I think it is too early as now Black is getting excellent chances to get back into the game. [17.Ne1 with the idea of playing Nc2 and maybe Nb4 could have stabilized White's advantage.]
17...axb3 Now the position is getting very dynamic.
18.axb3 Rxa1 19.Qxa1 Ne4!
An excellent move! Black is making his dream idea to play the f5 move come true!
White didn't have a better move. 

[Of course Black is just doing great after 20.Nxe4? dxe4 21.Nd2 f5] 20...f5? Caruana is missing an excellent chance. [After 20...Nxd6 21.cxd6 Qd7 Black's position is looking solid, but maybe White could still be slightly better.; But after 20...d4! White could already be the one who's in trouble! 21.N2xe4 dxe3 22.fxe3 White is 2 pawns up, but Black's play is very direct and dangerous. 22...f5 23.Nd2 Qg5 24.Nf1 e4 and I think Black has full compensation for the lost material. The control over the dark squares, an attack on the kingside as well as the "dead" white bishop on g2 give Black excellent chances.]
21.N2xe4 dxe4
White exchanged on e4 and managed to keep the monster knight on d6.
I think this is a great move. White is not only preparing to push b4b5 but also playing against the f4 move by putting extra pressure on e4.
22...f4 Black has nothing else left, Caruana needs to try his chances in the attack.
23.Bd2! Another good defensive move by White, the bishop is going to be a great protector on e1.
23...e3 24.Be1 Bf5?!
After this move Black's chances to survive are becoming very small. [Maybe the best move was 24...exf2+ 25.Bxf2 fxg3 26.Bxg3 Qg5 27.Kh2 and now the tricky 27...e4 trying to open the position as much as possible. Of course White is better here, but Black would still keep practical chances.]
[I think that after 25.Nxf5 gxf5 (25...Rxf5 26.g4 gives White a huge edge.) 26.g4! White's position is looking close to winning.]
Caruana wants to activate the bishop from g7 over the h6 square, but he is just not in time.

A strong move. White has a very nice positional idea in mind...
26...fxg3 27.Bxg3 Qg5
This is what Caruana was playing for, but White has an ace in his pocket...
This is exactly the move that refutes Black's 25...h5.
28...Qxg3 29.Rd3! Another excellent move. White stops Black fom getting any kind of play on the kingside.
29...Qh4 30.exf5 gxf5 After some exchanges, White is still a healthy pawn up.
I guess this move ends all of Black's hopes. The bishop on g7 is dead now and the black king is maybe even weaker than the white one. All White needs to do is to play b4b5 and creat a passed pawn.
31...fxe4 31...f4 is not any better.
32.Bxe4+ Kh8

33.Qe3 Good and solid.
33...Rf4 34.Bg2
Everything is protected and White can start thinking about the b4b5 push.
34...Qe7 35.Qe2
The pawn on h5 is under attack.
35...Qh4 36.b4 And the white pawns start to roll. White's position is totally winning.
36...e4 A practical decision. In a lost position Caruana at least tries to activate his pieces to have some theoretical chances for some tricks.
37.Nxe4 Ne5 38.Rd5
Once again everything is protected and the white pieces are controling the board.
This move already clearly shows that the game is over.
39.b5 Rf5 40.c6 bxc6 41.bxc6 So move 40 has been reached and White is 2 pawns up, the black king could find himself under some serious attack soon and another big problem is the c6 pawn, which just seems to be unstoppable. 41...Qe7 42.Nd6 White is bringing his knight to b5 to end what he started, to queen the c-pawn.

And the c7 move already cannot be stopped.
43...Qe6 44.Rd8+ Kh7 45.Qe4+
Another accurate move.
45...Rg6 46.c7 Qa6 47.c8Q Qa1+ 48.Kf2 Qb2+ 49.Ke1 White is a full queen up and after 49...Qa1 White has the simple 50.Rd1. We saw a very interesting and fighting game with a lot of different ideas. With this victory, Carlsen grabbed another 1st place in one of the world's strongest tournaments. Congratulations!


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution "Top GM Secrets" bulletin. 25 pages total.

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Comments (2)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 12:20 10 2015 .
Why one can't download these annoted games?
2. Written by Peter on 14:17 10 2015 .
You can actually click on "View game" and download the pgn. Good luck! :)

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Last Updated ( Friday, 09 May 2014 )
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